dimanche 31 décembre 2017

Weird GFX card fan problem

I've recently gotten a new GFX card (Geforce GTX 1060 mini) but encountered an odd problem.

I'll probably have to go to a repair shop, but maybe someone here has an answer.

As long as my computer is on, everything is fine, the card works as expected and the fan behaves as it should.
But when I turn my computer off, the fan just kicks into overdrive and keeps spinning at maximum speed.
This keeps going until I turn of the mains from my power supply.

Now I *suspect* the problem is that as long as my computer is on, it can monitor temperature and spin normally, but once I turn it off the card can no longer detect temperature, but the fan can still draw power from my power supply and just goes haywire.
It's not a huge issue as I can just flick a switch and take mains power away from the power supply (it has no on/off switch itself), but I do think it is odd.
Anyone any ideas?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2EtnPtF

"Hope Chest" tradition ....

When my wife and I got married we were poor teenagers :) ... our parents did very little to help with the wedding arrangements far as money goes ... I had saved up $1500 and she used that to rent the hall, hire a preacher, a DJ and make some sandwiches for the reception.

I got laid off work a week before the wedding, but we had a place to stay the apartment my Grandparents had ally rented out in their home in Toronto was empty and she saved it for us, and pretty good rent too :)

One item Liz moved in to our new abode ... was a hope chest she had since she was 10 years old, every year on her birthday or at other random times, women in her family would give gifts to the Hope Chest, some were even still unopened when we got married, it was filled with sensible items we really needed to start our new home.

My question is, does anyone in your families still practice this tradition? ... I didn't search on the web, but realized That is the only time I have heard of it ... certainly none of the girls I hang out with has a hope chest.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2CjPvnl

The enigma of the Infrastructure Bill

What will be in this "Infrastructure Bill" if one ever materializes?

Actually I guess the first question ought to be: will there ever be promised investment in infrastructure?

But if one does happen, what would it look like? How will it be funded? What projects will get funded? Are we just going to end up with a small number of tolled highways between megacities while rural America's roads continue to crumble?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2zUqMQj

Balancing beauty and naturalism in dialogue

'I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.' - F Scott

No human speaks like that.

They can only write like that after thought, which is why it works in Gatsby, as it is Nick's thoughts, which you don't judge as unrealistic as they exist in his mind, which you give more credit to as being able to construct something beautiful. We wouldn't give it a break if it was something he said because, well, no human speaks like that.

So my question is how, within fiction, whether it be a play or a film or a novel, how you are able to give dialogue some beauty and take it out of the dimension of normal, everyday dialogue, but without introducing a suspension of belief?

What is the limit of adding romanticism and beauty to dialogue before it becomes unrealistic ?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2zTXC3O

Shooting near Denver - multiple cops down

Multiple officers shot, suspect at large, bomb squad, SWAT on scene in Douglas County


Originally Posted by Denver Post
One Douglas County deputy died and four more wounded along with two civilians Sunday morning at a Highlands Ranch apartment complex. The shooter was also shot and is believed dead, the Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet at 9:32 a.m.

Not sure about the confirmed status of the shooter.


via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2CvtGhh

I have seen the future!



On Thursday, scientists working for a startup called eGenesis reported the birth of 37 PERV-free baby pigs in China, 15 of them still surviving.
This is an amazing development. Just think of the implications!

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2EndzTI

vendredi 29 décembre 2017

Robert Oppenheimer:Was the Manhattan Project Scientist A Traitor ?

Nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer has been accused of treachery to the USA by betraying atom bomb secrets to the Soviet Union. His supporters deny this. An article by John Wear which examines the claims against Oppenheimer -

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2pTzqi8

Iran: Anti-Government Protests

Iranian cities hit by anti-government protests

There are some direct reports on twitter showing chanters demanding the Mullahs leave the country. Calls for and end to Islamic rule and even shouts of Death to Rouhani.

Unfortunately, as long as the armed forces side with the Mullahs, these protests are not going to spur a regime change.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2DzCYZ9

On the first day of winter solstice, my true religion gave to me:

On the first day of winter solstice, my true religion gave to me:
1) Eternal Damnation
2)Yin and Yang ?
4)Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
7) Seven deadly vices

Get the gist? Go ahead, flesh it out, Use any and all religions. Don't stop at 12, 13 is a must when talking superstitions.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2EaOUS6

[Split Thread] Science cannot explain consciousness, therefore....

Mod Info This thread was split from Is your atheism predominately a science success or a theism fail?.

It may be that some posts were moved which should not have been, and/or that some posts which should have been moved remain in the original thread. Please report any posts that fall into either category so that I or another mod can deal with them. Thank you.
Posted By:Agatha

If materialism is true, then consciousness arising from a lump of meat is an ongoing miracle which science has utterly failed to explain. And probably never will.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2lr0cZW

Milo's cancelled book turns out to be a trainwreck (who knew?)

‘There was NO blood, NO semen and there was NO Satanism’: Read The Scathing Editor's Notes on Milo's Killed Book


Before his untimely downfall, Yiannopoulos was in contract to deliver his memoir, Dangerous, to the publisher Simon & Schuster. But they canceled the book last summer after video surfaced of Yiannopoulos speaking positively about relationships between young boys and much older men on a podcast, and he responded with a $10 million lawsuit. As the case has proceeded, we’ve been gifted the true bounty of the Dangerous manuscript, complete with all the comments by Yiannopoulos’ bewildered Simon & Schuster editor, which were filed December 21 as part the publishing house’s response to the civil lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court.
My favorites so far:

Editor comment [A589]:

It is always a mistake for an author to say "I can think of no better explanation." It's your job to think of a better explanation. It's what we paid you an advance for. THINK HARDER and replace this long anonymous internet post with prose of your own.
(caps in the original, hilite added)

After which I imagine a red pen drop (a'la mic drop).

Editor comment [A417]:

Beauty regime moved to box at end of chapter, after Nietzsche section
I find this to be a brilliant way to say "verbal masturbation has been moved to quarantine for everyone's safety."

It would appear Milo found the world of professional publishing had a bit higher quality bar than Breitbart expects. Cobbling together low-brow humor with internet discussion comments, failing to use a consistent voice, and opening your publisher up to libel suits tends to go poorly.

The editor is one Mitchell Ivers and if I had disposable income at the moment, I would be heartily sending a bottle of fine wine this man's way :9.

ETA: While Splinter News is not a source I'd consider for serious analysis, the manuscript and notes are the focus of my attention.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2C9zKzk

Does sleeping with a sliced potato in your sock reduce cough/fever?


"So I saw an article about putting potatoes in the babies sock when they’re sick. So Deairres had a little cold and i put potatoes in his socks last night around 8-9pm. He didn’t cough through the night..nose isn’t running...isn’t as congested and he slept for 12 hrs. 🙌🏾 the potatoes out of his sock were black 😳 now before people mention “oxidation” i left the other parts of the potato on the counter to see the difference and..."

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2CkZ2cT

David Goggins, the "Toughest man alive"

Have any of you heard of this living god?


Seriously, is anyone else tired of crap like this? I think it has to do with how we as a society have become so sedentary, we hold up people like Goggins as role models, and other "extreme/high intensity" sports.


Ran a 100-mile race despite collapsing at mile 70, where he had to tape his entire foot to finish the race
When does motivation and "striving to win/finish" become dangerous obsession? Just because you can tape your entire foot to finish a race 30 miles left, doesn't mean you should.

What I find ironic is this:


Live Inside Yourself: Don’t seek external resources to find what you want. Go inside yourself, and “write your own story.
In an interview, he says he saw an ad for Navy SEALs on TV so he decided to become a SEAL. That does not sound like "Going inside yourself" to me.

In my opinion, as a skeptic, his feats and accomplishments are impressive, I can't take that away from him. But in my view, there are other individuals who convey a healthier sense of drive and fitness to follow without being self destructive.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2lk1y9D

jeudi 28 décembre 2017

Physicists Demonstrate How to Reverse of the Arrow of Time

Anyone who knows about physics want to comment on this article?

Physicists Demonstrate How to Reverse of the Arrow of Time

Interesting stuff. Basically what I think they're saying is that they found a way to make heat flow from a colder atom to a hotter one via quantum entanglement.

Whether this means that they found a way to "reverse the arrow of time" or a way around the second law of thermodynamics is above my pay grade.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2DqnmHa

Just when you thought the New Age was dead...

On Quora yesterday, someone asked about “lightworkers”. Unfamiliar with the term, I looked it up:

“A Lightworker is anyone who devotes their life to being a bright light in the world. They understand that their actions (no matter how big or small) have the potential to raise the vibration of the planet. A Lightworker soul is awake, conscious that their presence matters and that they are part of something that is bigger than them.”

From just one of many web pages:


Seems that much like “Indigo Children”, these folks see themselves as special and as generally raising the tone and quality of humanity.....

At least, the idea seems relatively harmless.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2CgWIkC

Metric Vs imperial

Inanother topic - huffpost area man uses basic math to work something out
Someone has brought up usage of imperial units in the US, it is strange that in the UK we use miles for distance and stones/pounds for people's weight and feet/inches for people's height (and there are other examples) but at school, university and work I've only ever worked with metric and have no idea how to calculate or convert imperial units.
For example, occasionally at work I have to calculate the weights of blocks given the dimensions in mm and the density in kg/m³ and to me that's done very easily, how easily can that be done by someone used to imperial units given dimensions in feet/inches/fractions of inch and density in pounds/foot³?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2ChznQ4

Atheism a criminal offense in Egypt?

Apparently the Egyptian government is considering to criminalize atheism.

Until now "only" promoting atheism is a crime in Egypt. The contemplated law goes much further as the simple fact of being atheist would be regarded as a crime.

In view of this one can wonder why the ISIS continues to organise terror attacks in Egypt as the Egyptian government is meeting by its own the objectives of the Islamic state.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2zHQibs

mercredi 27 décembre 2017

Poker/Odds Question

I'm too lazy to figure this out myself, but it goes like this.

When I'm logging into an on-line poker game -Texas Holdem- , they
throw little ' factoids ' onto the screen while it's loading.

One I see a lot is " The chance of being dealt pocket Aces is 220 to 1.. "

Correct number or not, wouldn't the odds of being dealt any pocket pair be the same?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BMVDQM


whats up! ive been playing with the question "are we alone in the universe" for the past 3 nights, and honestly the concept of aliens is sick af. im hella curious so if youve got any interesting factoids drop them on this thread please!

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2Cdlgxh

Can pedophiles ever be forgiven?

There's a guy who spent ten years in prison for molesting a child who has been released for over ten years. He has a job painting cars and he lives quietly by himself. He has not reoffended.

Will society ever be able to forgive him?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2l8Z9OZ

Laura Plummer - a dubious cause célèbre

As ever, the British media is whipping itself into a frenzy about some poor citizen who has fallen foul of foreign justice. Laura Plummer (33) from Hull was arrested in Egypt with almost 300 capsules of the opioid painkiller Tramadol in her suitcase. She claimed to be bringing them for her Egyptian partner/boyfriend (some sources says he's married to someone else), who apparently didn't know she was doing soem. Tramadol is banned in Egypt, as there is apparently black market for it as a heroin substitute.

Before her trial the possibility of the death sentence was bandied about, as was a maximum 25 years in prison. She was actually senetenced to three years, but has now been transfered to an apparently not-too-cushy jail:

BBC News: Drug-smuggling Laura Plummer transferred to 'bad prison'

The press have been quick to down-play Plummer's crime and/or naive stupidity, objecting that the drugs were worth less than £30, and that she was only "doing someone a favour."

But hang on...

In the UK Tramadol is a prescription-only medicine, but is also Class C under the Misuse of Drugs Act. As such, possession is illegal, and possession with intent to supply even more so. Plummer apparently obtained them from "a friend" in the UK, so if she had been intercepted on her way out of the UK, she would have still been in serious trouble, as the current sentencing guidelines suggest:

"Supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug / Possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply it to another

Class C
Maximum: 14 years’ custody and/or unlimited fine
Offence range: Fine – 8 years’ custody"

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2lhbyQ0

A Victory over Antifa


Outing a nazi to his principle is basic antifa tactics and all those opposed to antifa should be proud of this fascist young man who stood up and defeated them. And remember the Nazis are the good guys and there is no ties between nazis and violence.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2Cfjp8T

mardi 26 décembre 2017

Film Noir

Can someone explain this film genre to me in a concise form?

I'm trying to explain film noir to my children and friends, but I'm not sure I can identify it myself.


via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2zBgO6i

“Dry Needling”?

My wife had occasion to be prescribed physical therapy recently.

Her treatment was quite conventional. But in the office was a flyer for “Dry Needling”:

They claim it’s not any form of acupuncture. We had not heard of it, and wonder if it’s evidence-based.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BU9EQF

shoplifting effectively decriminalized in the UK

"Most police forces no longer attend reports of routine shop theft and will only send an officer to investigate if there has been a threat of violence against a member of staff. Those caught stealing less than £200 are now dealt with "by post", in the same way as speeders, leading to the effective decriminalisation of shoplifting.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that retailers recently held private meetings with the Home Office at which they warned that "prolific and persistent" offenders were now exploiting the rules by moving around high streets stealing just under £200 worth of goods."


via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2zyWdzC

Is your atheism predominately a science success or a theism fail?

Theists often defend their god beliefs by attacking science with silly comments like - “Science doesn’t know everything, Science isn’t always right, Science can’t explain love”, etc. My response is usually - “So what? I’m an atheist mainly because theism has failed to convince me any god exists. Take away science and I would still be an atheist. Don’t blame science for the failure of theism”.

As I’ve never had a god belief (or any paranormal belief) I’m wondering if others are atheists predominately because of the success of science or the failure of theism.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BVEM2k

Action to ensure free speech at UK universities.


"Universities must protect free speech and "open minds, not close them," Universities Minister Jo Johnson will say in a speech in Birmingham later.
He will say "no-platforming", the policy of banning controversial speakers, is stifling debate.
From next April, a new regulator - the Office for Students - will have the power to fine universities that fail to uphold free speech.
Universities UK has said it will not allow legitimate debate to be stifled."

"Young people should have the resilience and confidence to challenge controversial opinions and take part in open, frank and rigorous discussions."

Rather than ban controversial speakers, Universities should welcome them and then destroy them in debates. Our most intelligent people are those whose job it should be to expose lies and flawed beliefs.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BS3u3A

lundi 25 décembre 2017

1952 Sci-fi movie: Red Planet Mars

OMG, who remembers this movie? I didn't.

Red Planet Mars

It has poor reviews and I can't find a copy in the library but there is so much here.

First Peter Graves, the young scientist, intercepts messages from Mars, maybe.

By telescope different scientists document in photographs that the canals are real, so it starts with that premise.

A separate eccentric scientist in Russia picks up transmissions between Graves and Mars but they need decoding. Russia, however, is ahead in their time zone.

First the message is that Mars has harnessed cosmic rays for power. Their lives are wonderful, no one suffers or goes hungry.

Then the world goes into chaos as all the coal miners and oil workers riot thinking they will be out of business soon.

But the other plot, Russia intercepting the messages, continues.

Or have they? The one scientist intercepting the messages for the Russian commies may be the one sending the messages.

As the world riots and economies collapse, a message is received from Mars claiming to be from Jesus believing Martians. It's the usual: Earth had a chance but we turned to evil, yadda yadda. There are Biblical references some key characters recognize and repeat from the Bible: 'The Sermon on the Mount'.

The US releases the message.

Next scene a bunch of God believers in Russia dig up some ancient relic and people march to a tiny church they put the relic in. They they are all mowed down by Russian soldiers.

Then they show an avalanche that wipes out the Russian intercepter.

Now the US scientist can't get any more messages and neither can the Russian military contact their guy, he was an eccentric.

So there you are, did Mars send the messages or the eccentric Russian.

Cue crowds singing religious hymns in Russia and the soldiers mowing them down.

Meanwhile in the capitalist world the riots and economic collapse disappears into scenes no one cares about.

Russians however succeed in overthrowing the military, the Orthodox Christians establish rule.

Cue the beautiful music, Peter Graves holding his son, everyone is happy and suddenly they all know what is really important. War is over. The Commies are defeated. God saved the world just in time for Christmas.

Final scene, the eccentric Russian scientist turns up at Graves' house. He confronts Graves who stole the Russian's invention used to communicate with Mars. Turns out he wasn't killed in the avalanche.

He admits the messages came from him. He threatens to tell the world. Graves' wife says he can't ruin what the messages have done.

Graves' wife discovers the messages really were from "the profit".

Or were they.

Now Graves thinks his government changed the messages.

Wife: it was no fraud.

Eccentric Russian: there's no god, I dug myself out of the avalanche.

The ending is fascinating. I don't want to spoil it. Will God show up and send a message from Mars or not? Will Graves kill the eccentric scientist to silence him? Or will Graves and his wife blow themselves up with the eccentric scientist to save mankind? Or will God stop that too? Or something else? :D

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BBmRts

Elon Musk's Response to those thinking SpaceX contrails were due to ET visitation

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2C9BsQm

All about Tonks! Err....Battleships!

Because I know much more about them than tanks, so I may even be able to participate. Any other naval history buffs here?

Here's a possibly controversial page to get you started.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2laTwiu

UN official tours Third World America

The other one percent -- only it's a lot bigger than one percent. Merry Christmas.

His fact-finding mission into the richest nation the world has ever known has led him to investigate the tragedy at its core: the 41 million people who officially live in poverty.

Of those, nine million have zero cash income – they do not receive a cent in sustenance.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BNkiZo

dimanche 24 décembre 2017

Study of people who are theists/atheists

Yes, another one of these threads.

So again same formula, post whether your an atheist, theist, agnostic, on the fence, etc. then post your age, education level, and place of residence.

I am an agnostic, I am in my mid 20s, currently in college, and live in the suburbs of Denver.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BKgfwS

A good book to read

"Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science"


Or hear him speak. http://ift.tt/2D9lSRk

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2C1UvJN

I absolutely love the Nativity story

I love, absolutely love, the Nativity story. Somewhere I have a small creche that I used to put up every year. A special baby is born into reduced circumstances and everyone, from kings to shepherds and the beasts of the fields, knows he is special. I enjoy the portents, the star, the herald angels singing. I come informed with Christmas carols born out of Victorian optimism. I love the drummer-boy story which ends with the baby smiling. "Joy to the World," "Silent Night" (though I know this is German), "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" ... the list goes on.

I like the idea of an adolescent Jesus shaking up the money-lenders at 13.

But I hate how the story ends, with the former baby being tortured to death, and I hate how Herod had every baby boy 2 and under slaughtered because Israel had a new king. I also wonder, if the baby (now 33) knew he was in fact immortal, does this really count as death? But that's a technicality. I also wonder why some of his followers feel they need to literally cannibalize him in order to be forgiven.

Anyone else have bits of Christianity they like or don't like? If you once believed, or still believe, that all of this is literally truth, that's cool with me. I'm inclined to think all this is the stuff of legend. To believe I would need a very abstract version in order to buy into it. What did Flannery O'Connor say, "Well if it's a symbol, to hell with it?" She was talking about transubstantiation. That's just to illustrate that very brilliant and creative people observe, say, Roman Catholicism, and I'm not out to rile anyone up, I'm not going to try to talk anyone out of their beliefs etc. I just wonder if other people see bits of Jesus's life as inspirational. For the purposes of this thread, he was a real guy with basically the same life story I reported above.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2D74Jbe

Crop circles: free english ebook for Xmas by Francesco Grassi (Italian CICAP member)

I'd like to give you all a circular gift for this Xmas.

Download for *free* your copy of "Crop circles: Signs of Intelligence" from December 23, 2017 to December 27, 2017.

Check out your Amazon link from Francesco Grassi website:
http //www francescograssi com/

Download for free my ebook and you'll know everything about crop circles, their true history and how to create crop circles in the field.
Merry Christmas and happy new year to you all!

Francesco Grassi
https //www facebook com/cropcircles.SOI/
https //www facebook com/francesco.grassi66

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2D7DNZ0

samedi 23 décembre 2017

The Pentagon Papers, we all need a review, seriously.

In advance of the movie release, The Post, planned this January, MSNBC is replaying the 2009 documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America about Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. This documentary should be a mandatory lesson in every high school in this country.

Inspired by war protestors who left places like MIT to go to jail protesting the war, Daniel Ellsberg was being eaten inside by what he knew about the Vietnam War: Presidents had been lying to the public from Eisenhower to Kennedy to Johnson to Nixon.

If that young person, a university student with so much promise, was willing to go to jail to end the Vietnam war, Ellsberg knowing what he knew had to risk jail himself

The most critical thing in the documentary to me (not counting the SCOTUS decision on freedom of the press) was the hypocrisy of Nixon calling Ellsberg "a traitor, making a decision on his own he knew what was right for the country," (paraphrased only slightly).

Let that hypocrisy sink in. It's stunning.

But not as stunning as the Nixon tapes revealing Nixon was ready to drop nuclear bombs 'to save face' essentially. Kissinger talked Nixon out of it.

The third most critical thing was the courage of the NY Times, then The Post, who both published excerpts, then Senator Mike Gravel who read the papers into the Congressional Record, forever preventing them from being suppressed.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2pph1tm

UFOs do exist admits Pentagon official.

Headline news in the Telegraph (posh newspaper, not prone to this kind of headline)


I do not have premium access to get the entire article, this is what is available;

"Earth may well have been visited by UFOs from outer space, the former head of a secret US government programme has told The Telegraph.
Luis Elizondo said the existence of supremely advanced unidentified aircraft, using technology that did not belong to any nation, had been "proved beyond reasonable doubt".
Until two months ago, from his office on the fifth floor of The Pentagon, Mr Elizondo, a career intelligence officer, ran the innocuously named Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which was funded with $22 million in "black ops money" from Congress.
The existence of the real-life X-Files department, which began in 2007, was revealed this week and confirmed by the Pentagon.
In an interview with the Telegraph Mr Elizondo said much of what he could discuss was still classified."

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2zlA080

The Perilous Whiteness of Pumpkins

I have become concerned that these gourds may be inherently racist.

The Perilous Whiteness of Pumpkins


This article examines the symbolic whiteness associated with pumpkins in the contemporary United States. Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte, a widely circulated essay in McSweeney’s on “Decorative Gourd Season,” pumpkins in aspirational lifestyle magazines, and the reality television show Punkin Chunkin provide entry points into whiteness–pumpkin connections. Such analysis illuminates how class, gender, place, and especially race are employed in popular media and marketing of food and flavor; it suggests complicated interplay among food, leisure, labor, nostalgia, and race. Pumpkins in popular culture also reveal contemporary racial and class coding of rural versus urban places. Accumulation of critical, relational, and contextual analyses, including things seemingly as innocuous as pumpkins, points the way to a food studies of humanities and geography. When considered vis-à-vis violence and activism that incorporated pumpkins, these analyses point toward the perils of equating pumpkins and whiteness.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2plbOmB

vendredi 22 décembre 2017

Intricately Carved Gemstone Found in Ancient Warrior's Tomb


The Greek sealstones small size, along with the veining on the stone, meant that many of the tiny details could be seen only using photomicroscopy.

What I find interesting is the implication optics of some type were used to scribe such minute detail.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BSSaB2

Don't Sweat It


According to another limited study, Atheists nevertheless break out in micro-sweat if they invoke some god-awful curse.

I for one pray God will strike me down with cancer. It's better than ending life as a senile, drooling lump.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2zi238f

California hates the Police & Wal-Mart


Walmart has decided to shift the responsibility of punishing first-time shoplifters back onto local law enforcement after a program it used to handle offenders was deemed "extortion" by a California judge. Local police departments can reportedly spend thousands of dollars a day responding to calls at Walmart stores.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2pfxYGL

Anyone familiar with a Patrick Alaggio?

Stumbled across a name this morning I do not recall seeing before in the 9/11 Woo business - Patrick Alaggio. He is interviewed in this newly published and excrutiatingly long Youtube video:


He also appears to be the author of a new book (author listed as Michael Alaggio Patrick) called "His Story: The Prima Facie Case of Murder Against Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the Shadow Government: 9/11 the Pentagon Murders"

Anyone have the 411 on this guy? Seems a bit late to try and cash in on 9/11 woo.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2kXI4qq

jeudi 21 décembre 2017

Jesuits, Zionism, ect...

Went to check whether the nutter I know is less nuttier.

Nope, in fact I thought I'd share some of his "beliefs" over here. For Example, he is a strong believer of The Protocols From The Elders Of Zion.

Some of the stuff he literally believes (he posts tons of links on his Google+ account):


Snacks can be found on the left. Pills against headaches or heavy migraine caused by stupidity are on the right (you know that the NWO takes good care of it's members.). :thumbsup:

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BjeFh8

The Zionists & Walmart


Eh, yeah...

This is all I have to say to that: :jaw-dropp

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BW93gh

New Hulu Series: "The Looming Tower" Coming in February

I know, it's not conspiracy related, but it should generate more silliness.

Hulu has a mini-series based on the book "The Looming Tower", by Lawrence Wright (which is solid work).


Looks good. :thumbsup:

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BvDHOa

Mexican Youtube Star Insults Drug Lord, Gets Riddled With Bullets



Juan Luis Lagunas Rosales was born in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, a mecca for cartels and the land of notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Lagunas grew up never knowing his father. His mother left him with his grandmother as a child.

Lagunas left his hometown at the age of 15 without finishing high school, moving to the nearby municipality of Culiacán and washing cars to make a living, he said in an interview in July. It was in this adopted town that he took on the nickname that would later become known across cyberspace: “El Pirata de Culiacán,” or “The Pirate of Culiacán.”

He started landing invitations to more and more parties, and soon fell into a life of excessive drinking. He would post videos on social media showing him chugging beer and bottles of whiskey, sometimes getting so drunk he would pass out. The videos started going viral. In the years that followed, the bingeing teenager became a perverse YouTube sensation. At the age of 17, he racked up more than a million followers on Facebook and more than 300,000 on Instagram. His social media fame started earning him spots in music videos and at promotional events.

His baby face, matched with his belligerent, clownish behavior, entertained the masses. Yet it was easy to forget that he was still a boy. He drew a beard on his chin to look older. He tattooed his arms — a pirate on one, a tiger on the other. He posted pictures on Instagram with large guns, half-naked women and luxury cars.

The drinking age in Mexico is 18, but “El Pirata de Culiacán” drank as if he had no limits. Like many teenage boys, he lived as if he was invincible, saying whatever he wanted about whomever he wanted. It was all a big game, a big party.

But in Sinaloa, one of Mexico’s most violent states, no one is invincible — especially when you mess with the wrong people.

In one recent video posted online, a seemingly intoxicated Lagunas was recorded taking a stab at Nemesio Ocegera Cervantes, also known as “El Mencho.” Cervantes happens to be one of Mexico’s most dangerous drug lords, according to U.S. government officials, the leader of the New Generation Cartel of Jalisco.

“El Mencho a mí me pela la verga” Lagunas said, according to El Pais. The phrase is an insult that loosely means, “suck my c‑‑‑.”

And on Monday night, while he and his friends partied at a bar in Jalisco, a group of armed individuals burst in and fired at Lagunas, the attorney general of Jalisco, Raúl Sánchez Jiménez, told Mexican media outlets. The teenager died, sustaining between 15 and 18 bullet wounds. Authorities managed to identify Lagunas by his tattoos.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2Bswn5Y

I Wonder If Liberals Have *Read* the New Tax Law: The New Deductions and Rates

You would never know it to read the incredible lies coming from the left about the tax reform bill that Trump just signed, but here are the deductions and rates under the Trump tax law that goes into effect 1 January (this info comes from the Congressional conference report on the final version of the bill--you can also find this info on numerous tax information sites):

* The standard deduction will increase from $6,500 for individuals to $12,000, and from $13,000 to $24,000 for joint returns (married).

* The tax credit for each child under 17 will double from $1,000 to $2,000.

* As for the tax brackets, the rates for the brackets will change as follows:

-- First bracket: Will remain at 10%
-- Second bracket: Will drop from 15% to 12%
-- Third bracket: Will drop from 25% to 22%
-- Fourth bracket: Will drop from 28% to 24%
-- Fifth bracket: Will drop from 33% to 32%
-- Sixth bracket: Will remain at 35%
-- Seventh bracket: Will drop from 39.6% to 37%

Yes, contrary to liberal disinformation about the new law, the biggest rate cuts are going to the middle class. The highest bracket only gets a rate reduction of 2.6 percentage points, whereas the fourth bracket gets a rate cut of 4 percentage points and the second and third brackets get a rate cut of 3 percentage points.

More info:

* The alternative minimum tax will be eliminated for people in the first six tax brackets.

* The amount that you can deduct for state and local taxes will be capped at $10,000 (which means that people in low-tax states will no longer be subsidizing state tax deductions for wealthy people in high-tax states).

* Under current law, interest on mortgages up to $1.1 million can be deducted. That cutoff will be reduced to $750,000 for new mortgages.

To read more about the tax changes, see:


via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2DoDdXG

Why Trump?

With a year's hindsight, was there anything the Republican Party could have done to stop Trump? Early in the campaign, Trump was winning primaries with 20% of the vote because his opposition was split a dozen ways. The party establishment certainly didn't want him. What could the Repubs have done differently?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2p5d6lg

Compelling aka UFO Evidence


Surprised there's not a thread on this, sort of. Leave it to Trump to make it so evidence of something otherworldly is not the #1 piece of news.

Anyway, it seems the Pentagon has spent a bit of taxpayer dollars trying to determine what to make of various UFO reports. The program was shut down in 2012, but it has recently been declassified and as a skeptic, I really think the reporting and video is pretty compelling.

Alongside the video, we have interviews with the principle players, the pilots, the folks involved in the investigation and such. Our most sophisticated radar systems confirmed what the pilots were seeing.

It's probably safe to say that whatever it is, it needs more study. These encounters are apparently numerous. This paragraph from the linked article is pretty much where I stand:


While not addressing the merits of the program, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at M.I.T., cautioned that not knowing the origin of an object does not mean that it is from another planet or galaxy. “When people claim to observe truly unusual phenomena, sometimes it’s worth investigating seriously,” she said. But, she added, “what people sometimes don’t get about science is that we often have phenomena that remain unexplained.”

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BTfXmO

American exceptionalism at its finest: life expectancy declines over two years


American life expectancy at birth declined for the second consecutive year in 2016, fueled by a staggering 21 percent rise in the death rate from drug overdoses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

The United States has not seen two years of declining life expectancy since 1962 and 1963, when influenza caused an inordinate number of deaths. In 1993, there was a one-year drop during the worst of the AIDS epidemic.

“I think we should take it very seriously,” said Bob Anderson, chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the CDC. “If you look at the other developed countries in the world, they’re not seeing this kind of thing. Life expectancy is going up.”

The development is a dismal sign for the United States, which boasts some of the world’s highest spending on medical care, and more evidence of the toll the nation’s opioid crisis is exacting on younger and middle-aged Americans, experts said.

Don't worry though cause Trump will fix it like he'll fix it all.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BU9OXo

Memphis Confederate Statues Down

Statues of Nathan Bedford Forest and Jefferson Davis - the last two Confederate statues in Memphis - came down overnight.


No disorder reported so far.

Forest is buried beneath his statue. I don't know what will become of his remains

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2z9vTLW

mercredi 20 décembre 2017

Another Reason to Distrust Apple

Apple just confirmed a longtime conspiracy theory

" Apple on Wednesday admitted it's been secretly throttling the performance of older iPhones."

I'm sure this type of behavior is not limited to Apple, but it helps re-affirm my reasons for not giving them any of my money...
A couple more:

"The iPhone 4, for example was perfectly capable of running Siri, but Apple reserved that feature for the model that replaced it, the iPhone 4s. "

"...the camera in the iPhone 3G was capable of shooting video, but Apple didn't turn that feature on and instead made video recording the signature capability of its next device, the iPhone 3GS."

My wife won't give up her iPhone.
I'm always " fixing " it for her.. I power it down, and back on again.

She would probably be getting a X, but she doesn't like the size..

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BGUc6Y

Deconstruction of Republican Tax Bill

Listening to this morning’s “Takeaway” on NPR, they had a fellow, Daniel Shaviro, a professor of taxation at the New York University school of law, commenting on the just-passed bill in detail:

I have to say, this guy pulled no punches and just excoriated the thing. Referred to many of the Republican claims simply as “lies” rather than being mistaken or unlikely.

Sadly, not much to be done at this point; appears to be a done deal.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2ktOuhA

Jesus Temptation story in other religions?

In the spirit of Christmas,I thought why not: can anyone cite religious texts older than the NT that tell a similar temptation story Jesus faced in the desert with Satan? So far, I have found no similarities except in buddhism, where supposedly Siddartha Gutama was tempted by Mara to be king, but the earliest record of this story I found is in "the gospel of buddha", from the late 1800s. That text is based off of buddhist texts, supposedly, but no primary sources are cited in that work so its authority is dubious at best.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2Bp1Hm4

High corporate tax rates - do they result in trickle down and/or prosperity?

Not being a frequent visitor to this board, apologies if this has been covered.

I heard an interesting hypothesis about the rates at which corporations are taxed.

I am not saying this is valid or holds water, just that it is interesting.

During the Eisenhower administration, the corporate (income) tax rate was somewhere around 90%. Any and all profits would be taxed at that extremely high rate.

Not wanting to be taxed, the corporations spent their profits. They improved factories, increased wages, expanded production, invested in the community - all of this spending to avoid paying the 90% or so rate and all of this spending lead to prosperity.

Does this hypothesis make sense? Not knowing much about economics, I can see how it makes sense with a cursory glance, but, can anyone who is more erudite about economics explain if this is viable or not?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BdjBEx

Marry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2018

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2018 to everyone on this forum:

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2oWHe2f

Woman killed and partially eaten by her pitbulls

Police, it seems, were reluctant to release the full details until it was cleared with relatives.

Virginia's Bethany Stephens was, it seems, mauled to death by her pair of pitbulls, dogs she'd raised from puppies. When police attended the scene they (5 of them) found the dogs chewing on her ribcage.

This woman doesn't appear to be a drug-crazed, dog-abusing thug. While family, friends and even a professional or two initially stepped in to suggest she'd been murdered or killed by a bear, the eventual police statement appears to rule this out.

There's something seriously wrong with this breed, and other closely related breeds.


via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2oYsPTb

Question about the "R word"

I'm just wondering: if the "r word" is now forbidden in polite society, does that mean that all other words for "stupid" should also be forbidden, or only the "r word"?


via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2Bndwtc

Huffpost: "Area Man Uses Basic Math to Figure Something Out"

Okay, this is about a more than two and a half year old article. I stumbled across it while Googling for information about the more recent Amtrak derailment.

Here's the article.

Apparently, it's now (at least slightly) newsworthy that someone was able to use available data and elementary-school-level arithmetic to figure something out. In this case, the speed of a train captured in motion in a video clip.


Originally Posted by the linked article
Here’s how it works: On Noda’s site, Sic Transit Philadelphia, he analyzed video obtained by CNN of the train rounding a bend immediately before the crash. Looking at the time on the surveillance video, Noda counted 4.5 seconds between the first car coming into view and the last car passing out of the frame.

Based on Noda’s identification of the train’s eight cars — an ACS-64 locomotive at the front, followed by seven Amfleet I passenger cars — he was able to calculate the length of the entire train. The combined length of a 67-foot ACS-64 and seven 85-foot Amfleet I cars is 662 feet. That means the train traveled 662 feet in 4.5 seconds.

There are three more paragraphs that follow, explaining operation by operation, how Noda converted feet per second into miles per hour. Really. Here's the first:


To calculate how fast the train was going in miles per hour, Noda converted feet per second to miles per hour. First, to convert seconds to an hour, he found the ratio of 4.5 seconds to the number of seconds in an hour. Since there are 3,600 seconds in an hour, a 4.5-second interval occurs 800 times in an hour.

The reporter is obviously very impressed by this feat. Maybe because Noda didn't use a radar gun or a video-train-speed-finder app or anything! Just the miracles of taking and looking up measurements, addition, multiplication, and division. Who knew such things were possible?

I find this a bit alarming. This had to be explained? This impressed the reporter enough to write about it in the same admiring tone that a typical local reporter would use to describe how a fifth grader sold potted seedlings to raise $5000 for a charity?

On the other hand, if such articles were commonplace, if there were frequent sidebars or a regular section in news media on "how we can figure this stuff out, step by step," maybe more grown-ups would know how to do it.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2B6IP7m

[Continuation] All things Trump + Russia Part 3

Mod InfoNew thread for continuing discussions from: http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=321467
Posted By:Darat

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2B60dZQ

mardi 19 décembre 2017

Man to sue after rape trial collapse



Liam Allan was charged with 12 counts of rape and sexual assault but his trial collapsed after police were ordered to hand over phone records.

The case against Mr Allan at Croydon Crown Court was dropped after three days when the evidence on a computer disk containing 40,000 messages revealed the alleged victim pestered him for "casual sex".
Do the UK police ever apologize after screwing someone over like that or does that just lead to more problems for them if their victim sues?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2D5gqQi

UK - Grandparent carers in debt due to grandchildren

My eye was caught by this BBC article which IMO has the usual combination of real issue and hyperbole:


The headline case is an interesting one. A grandmother looked after her grandchildren due to her daughter having a drug issue. The grandchildren are grateful but sadly the grandparent is now declaring bankruptcy due to the £20k in debts she has run up.

Then again, according to the article:


She spent on credit cards so the children could go on school trips and holidays, and is currently going through bankruptcy to clear her £20,000 debt.
...so another way of putting it was that someone made poor spending decisions and bought things she couldn't really afford.

There does seem to have been problems early on because the grandparent didn't seem able to access the benefits (welfare for US readers) to which she should have been entitled:


Eventually Ms Seed got family allowance and child tax credits, and fought for residency payment from the council, at £40 per child, per week.
...but then in part that could have been a function of the possibly informal nature of the arrangement early on.

That said, there does seem to be an issue for "kinship carers" not having access to benefits but I can also see there being scope for benefits fraud with a grandparent claiming to be a kinship carer but splitting any benefits with their children.


There is no statutory entitlement to financial support for kinship carers - local authorities decide what support is available in individual cases.

Registered foster carers are entitled to financial support but kinship carers have no equivalent entitlement.

Help is difficult to access if the carer is looking after the child as a private arrangement with no legal order.
I'm not sure what the solution is. As long as the grandparent is a good carer then I can certainly see the benefit both financial and social for keeping it in the family but in that case I think that a formal arrangement needs to be made to limit the scope for misunderstanding and benefits fraud.

Then again, perhaps it's just a symptom of today's fractured society that it's even considered unusual for grandparents to be carers for grandchildren. A century ago, with more multi-generational households, it might have been considered quite usual.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BeKImA

lundi 18 décembre 2017

Evolution of Consciousness

“Thinking”: The Evolutionary Catalyst for “Consciousness”


I believe that many human traits as we know them, such as consciousness and language, are results of evolutionary adaptations that resulted in the first "thought". I believe that “thinking” sparked the incredibly rapid evolution of the human brain, relatively speaking, by means of an intra-species evolutionary arms race. As new and better forms of “thinking” became more important for the survival and fitness of the individuals within and between communities, traits that mutated which allowed individuals to express, understand, monitor and control the “thinking” of themselves and the “thinking” of others would be selected for and allowed to propagate through the gene pool. Twisted mirror neurons were crucial in this evolutionary arms race and I suspect the first “thought” was the result of a twisted mirror neuron creating an internal referential gesture. I will explain, and this has many implications.

Evolutionary Setting

Evolution is driven by selection pressures, with the biggest threats to survival and reproduction driving the natural selection of favorable traits from random mutations. Our most recent evolutionary ancestors were bipeds, nomadic, omnivorous, self-aware, capable of simple problem solving, referential gestures and vocalizations, lived in communities, etc. As our ancestors reached this stage of evolution, they became more reliant on their community to provide insulation via food, child rearing, protection, etc. The community allowed each individual to become more and more resistant to external selection pressures; due to both their relative dominance over other species/nature and the fact that the greatest threat to the survival of their genes would be the destruction of or disbarment from their community (1).

This means that mutations with adaptive value to the social cooperation both within and between communities would be strongly selected and propagate through the population. Meanwhile, if a cheater mutation occurred that enhanced an individual’s fitness while threatening the social cooperation of the community, both the damage to this social cooperation and the damage to every other individuals genetic fitness would act as selection pressures for natural selection of traits that counter the evolutionary advantage of the cheater. These two groups would have children together that possessed both traits, and the arms race would continue and intensify as cheaters had selection pressures to cheat better, anti-cheaters had selection pressures to police better, and individuals with both traits had selection pressures to monitor their own cheating and anti-cheating behavior (2). I believe these evolutionary conditions allowed such an intra-species evolutionary arm race to occur, sparked by the first “thought”, which led to the relatively rapid expansion in the size and capabilities of the human brain (1,3).


(1) Ecological dominance, social competition, and coalitionary arms races: Why humans evolved extraordinary intelligence. Mark Flinn, David Geary, Carol Ward. 2005. Evolution and Human Behavior 26 10-46
“He argued that as our hominin ancestors became increasing able to master the traditional hostile forces of nature, selective pressures resulting from competition among conspecifics became increasingly important, particularly in regard to social competencies. Given the precondition of competition among kin- and reciprocity-based coalitions (shared with chimpanzees), an autocatalytic social arms race was initiated, which eventually resulted in the unusual collection of traits characteristic of the human species, such as concealed ovulation, extensive biparental care, complex sociality, and an extraordinary collection of cognitive abilities.

(2) Manhes P, Velicer GJ. Experimental evolution of selfish policing in social bacteria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2011;108(20):8357-8362. doi:10.1073/pnas.1014695108.
"In nature, evolution within cheater-infected lineage groups may proceed faster than the rate at which cheaters are passively lost from a population due to kin selection operating at the group level. Thus, local cheater frequencies might often be shaped by complex coevolutionary arms races in which diverse cooperators, cheaters, and policers cycle through phases of exploitation and resistance among socially cotransmitted lineages."

(3) Literary Darwinism: Evolution, Human Nature, and Literature, By Joseph Carroll
"In cheating and the detection of cheating, some Darwinian social thinkers see an evolutionary arms race that is in large measure responsible for the development of human intelligence

Thoughts: Internal Referential Communication

What is a “thought”? According to google dictionary: "an idea or opinion produced by thinking or occurring suddenly in the mind." I believe a “thought” can best be described as an internal referential communication, which makes “thinking” the active processing of internal referential communications. Let me explain.

A referential communication, as documented in science, is when gestures or vocalizations are produced for the purpose of attracting the attention of another to a particular aspect of the environment for the purpose of eliciting a specific behavior. Two examples include the shouting of alarm calls, which alert others to run from a predator, and pointing at an itchy spot on one's body for another to scratch. Referential communication is considered by some to be the closest animal communication system to human language, though it falls short in many ways, as it is displayed in some of the most intelligent non-human species such as apes and corvids (4).

With this definition of a referential communication in mind, a hypothetical internal referential communication is thus an internal gesture or vocalization, or simply the memory of a gesture or vocalization, activated for the purpose of attracting the attention of only oneself to a particular aspect of the environment for the purpose of eliciting a specific behavior.

I believe the internalization of referential communications sparked the “arms race” as described above because internal referential communications are a form of cheating which threatens both social cooperation and the reproductive success of the other individuals in the community. To use an example, consider a hypothetical evolutionary path of mutations on referential vocalizations; in particular, alarm calls. The idea of an alarm call is that an organism draws attention to himself by shouting an alarm and pointing out a predator, hurting his chances of survival but increasing the chances of survival of his community.

Imagine one individual had a mutation such that he heard his own alarm call while he was calling and processed it and reacted to it as though it had come from someone else - by hearing it, experiencing intense fear and running - involuntarily altering his behavior, but increasing his chances of survival and thus passing on his genes. In this scenario, he has not associated fear with the predator, but with his own alarm calling behavior, essentially “learning” that it is not a wise thing.

The next time our individual was in a similar situation to call he would no longer react to the predator, but to this newly formed fear associated with the memory of his own alarm calling behavior, and to avoid that fear he would run. In this sense, the memory of his own alarm call became an internal referential vocalization, as the memory of the alarm call directed only the attention of the individual to the predator and the need to run away. This allowed the individual to “cheat”, creating a selection pressure for the evolution of policing behavior and igniting the arms race, as described above (5).
While hypothetical, this example is comparable beyond alarm calls to many situations where it would be favorable for an individual to internalize a referential communication and, once the system became further evolved, to alter many behaviors - by reexperiencing the effects of that behavior before actually behaving; by thinking before acting.


(4) https :// www . psychologytoday. com/blog/animal-emotions/201305/fish-use-referential-gesture-communicate-during-hunting

I don’t know of anyone who writes about internal referential communication. But there is evidence to support the concept the way I have described it. For example,

(5) Language Evolution: The Origin of Meaning in Primates. School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews KY16 9JP, UK.
"These findings were interpreted as evidence of the males’ ability to keep track and remember which group members had and had not given alarm calls."

This is a perfect example of a “policing" trait that could be selected for in the intra-species arms race were "cheaters" to emerge who were able to repress their alarm calls.

Further, to quote myself, “consider if one individual had a mutation such that he heard his own alarm call while he was calling and processed it and reacted to it as though it had come from someone else”

Now consider mirror neurons. From Wikipedia: A mirror neuron is a motor neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. These neurons are suspected to have been important in the evolution of human empathy, language, awareness, and consciousness by modern academia. I think it is likely that mirror neurons allowed the evolution of the system I am describing.

A “thought”, when defined as an internal referential gesture, can be described similarly to mirror neurons as neurons that fires both when an individual acts and when an he observes his own action - as was the case when the individual both gave his alarm call and heard himself giving his alarm call.

Since it is different, I had thought to call this an “internal” mirror neuron until I ran across the work of David McNeill, so I will stick to his and George Herbert Mead’s title: “twisted” mirror neurons. Here is a quote from his David McNeill’s Wikipedia on the evolution of the speech-gesture-thought unity of language.

“According to Mead's Loop, mirror neurons underwent a "twist" whereby they came to respond to one’s own gestures as if they came from someone else: this is what evolved. The "twist" works because it brings the significance of one’s own gestures into the same areas of the brain where speech is being orchestrated.”

Note that this is talking about gestures, and not vocalizations such as the alarm call. I’ll get into how the two might become connected in the next section.

V.S. Ramachandran also writes about concepts that are similar to this. For example, here is a quote from his article https :// www . edge. org/conversation/vilayanur_ramachandran-self-awareness-the-last-frontier

“I also speculated that these neurons (mirror neurons) can not only help simulate other people's behavior but can be turned "inward"—as it were—to create second-order representations or metarepresentations of your own earlier brain processes. This could be the neural basis of introspection, and of the reciprocity of self awareness and other awareness.”

This seems to fit the description of these twisted mirror neuron "thoughts".

From Thoughts to Consciousness
From google dictionary, Consciousness is defined as the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world. This is a very complex topic that it is beyond me academically, but I think most people would agree consciousness is what separates humans from animals, and that human consciousness is built from many traits, such as awareness, inner speech, theory of mind, language, a conscience, etc. I believe this system of involuntary thoughts-before-behavior led to many of these human traits, and will attempt to explain a few.

How could thoughts lead to language? In this model, language is a result of selection pressures for individuals to be able to express and understand the thoughts and behavior of themselves and others better. Expressing and understanding thoughts became a form of interpersonal information exchange. By this logic language and consciousness would evolve simultaneously, since an individual could only understand the world better as it gained the evolutionary hardware to explain the world better to others and to himself.

I believe a key step in this process, the mechanism that would most strongly drive both language and consciousness, was the onset and internalization of interrogative behavior; questions and answers, in a manner similar to the initial alarm call repression. Interrogative behavior (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How) are questions and answers that allow an interpersonal information exchange of specific information via evolutionarily linked vocalizations and gestures. Interrogative behavior likely evolved both as a way to enhance social cooperation and as a “policing” mechanism to regulate cheating within themselves and others.

Gestures would become linked with question-answers to add communicative push and so communication could transcend learned speech differences. For example, “I mean you no harm” has the same gesture regardless of what vocalization is associated with “friend”. By linking gestures and vocalizations in this way, the motor-visual system became linked with the vocal-auditory system.

Consider how twisted mirror neurons would interact with these speech-hand linked questions and answers. To quote David McNeill’s Wiki again,
“While “straight” mirror neurons reproduce the actions ofanother, with meanings that are those of the other’sactions, the Mead’s Loop “twist” responds to one’s owngestures as if from another, and brings into the actionorchestration areas of the brain different meanings thatintrinsically have a social, public, outgoing orientation.”

As an individual answered a question, he would hear and see himself answering the question as though he were someone else. By bringing questions into the action orchestration areas of the brain, I believe those questions activated the “straight” mirror neurons. Thus, as the individual heard and saw himself answering a question as though he were someone else, he activated the mirror neurons as if he had heard himself answer the question as though he were someone else. In other words, he became aware via inner speech.

This inner speech to an intrapersonal transfer of information similar to the interpersonal transfer of information allowed by interrogative behavior; allowing awareness of thoughts, and directly leading to other aspects of consciousness and language to evolve.

For example,
a. Who are you? Became Who am I? - Answers form identity, self-esteem
b. What are you doing? Became What am I doing? - Answers allow awareness of behavior, voluntary motor control?
c. When did you do this? Became When did I do this? - Answers allow awareness of time.
d. Where is it? Became Where am I? Answers create mental construction of external reality
e. Why did you do that? Became Why did I do that? Answers allow awareness of motivations, goals
f. How are you doing this? Became How am I doing this? Answers allow logic; rational thought process, ability to learn and teach

There are other questions that the brain would evolve to ask itself. For example, what do I see? Hear? Taste? Feel? Smell? Would allow conscious awareness of senses. The answers to all of these questions, because they are processed as though someone else had answered them, are how the brain began to use thoughts to guide it’s own behavior and not just it’s own vocalizations.

For example, if an individual was about to do something that he would hate another person for, the brain would respond to “What am I doing?” with angry feelings and thoughts and likely avoid the behavior. In other words, this was also an evolutionary mechanism for The Golden Rule and an individual’s conscience.

I even suspect the questions that were most important for the individual to internally aware of evolved in localized or permanently connected areas of the brain. For example, with quotes from www . neuroskills . com

a) What do I look like? “Right Superior Lobule: (partly) responsible for constructing your “body image” - the vivid mental awareness you have of your body’s configuration and movement in space. (RamachandranTTB, 20)”
b) How do I do that? “Left Supramarginal Gyrus: conjures up a vivid image of intended skilled actions and executes them. Injury (here) hinders you from orchestrating skilled movements. (RamachandranTTB, 20).”
c) Where am I? “Right Angular Gyrus: A brain region which gives you the sense of being localized within your own body. Zap it (with an electrode) and you may have an ‘out-of-body experience.’ (Blakeslee, 205)”
d) What am I seeing? “Dorsal stream of Occiptal Lobe: ventral stream is known for the processing the "what" in vision” (Wikipedia on occipital lobe)

Does it Add Up?

If this is “how” the brain evolved, the proof should be in the pudding, in our perception and behavior. I believe it is. Consider a few of the illnesses Ramachandran studies to examine mirror neurons. These quotes are from https :// www . newyorker. com/magazine/2009/05/11/brain-games

“Apotemnophilia: An otherwise completely normal person develops an intense desire to have his arm or leg amputated. The right parietal (a part of it known a SPL) normally contains a complete internal image of the body. We showed recently that in these patients the part of the map corresponding to the affected limb is congenitally missing, leading to alienation of the limb.”

According to our model, this individual is asking himself What do I look like? The answer is located in the SPL, which is missing the visual representation of “arm”. Without the visual representation, the question cannot activate the “straight” mirror neurons in the speech orchestrating parts of the brain, and the individual suffers a disconnect between how they feel and what is real. They know that they have an arm, but feel as though they do not, and the resulting cognitive dissonance is why they desire to lose the arm.

The opposite is true in the case of phantom limbs, another illness that Ramachandran has done a great deal of research on.

“ In the majority of cases where people have lost limbs, they continue to vividly feel the presence of the missing limb. Chronic phantom pain — which strikes roughly two-thirds of patients who have had a limb removed — can become so severe that patients seriously contemplate suicide.”

According to our model, this individual is asking himself “What do I look like?” and the visual representation still exists despite the arm being gone. Thus, the “straight” mirror neurons will still kick in in the speech orchestrating parts of the brain, causing the individual to be aware of the feelings of an arm that no longer exists.

The method that Ramachandran uses to “amputate” the phantom limbs is particularly striking when thought about in terms of this theory. To quote the article,

“His first test subject was a young man who a decade earlier had crashed his motorcycle and torn from his spinal column the nerves supplying his left arm. After keeping the useless arm in a sling for a year, the man had the arm amputated above the elbow. Ever since, he had felt unremitting cramping in the phantom limb, as though it were immobilized in an awkward position.
In his office in Mandler Hall, Ramachandran positioned a twenty-inch-by-twenty-inch drugstore mirror upright, and perpendicular to the man’s body, and told him to place his intact right arm on one side of the mirror and his stump on the other. He told the man to arrange the mirror so that the reflection created the illusion that his intact arm was the continuation of the amputated one. Then Ramachandran asked the man to move his right and left arms simultaneously, in synchronous motions—like a conductor—while keeping his eyes on the reflection of his intact arm. “Oh, my God!” the man began to shout. “Oh, my God, Doctor, this is unbelievable.” For the first time in ten years, the patient could feel his phantom limb “moving,” and the cramping pain was instantly relieved. After the man had used the mirror therapy ten minutes a day for a month, his phantom limb shrank—“the first example in medical history,” Ramachandran later wrote, “of a successful ‘amputation’ of a phantom limb.””

According to our model, why does this work? Because the mirror allows the individual to see the “answer” to “what do I look like” in the exact same way a twisted mirror neuron does – by seeing the hand as though it were someone else’s hand. This allows the mirror to “hijack” the internal visual representation’s link to “straight” mirror neurons that control how the phantom limb “feels”.

I believe this logic suggests by understanding how internal referential communication evolved we may begin to grasp a top down approach of understanding the brain and ourselves – a way of performing what Ramachandran believes is missing from consciousness and “self” research: "psycho-anatomy"; whose goal is to explain specific details of certain complex mental capacities in terms of equally specific activity of specialized neural structures.

To summarize this model: “twisted” mirror neurons allowed the repression of alarm call behavior, allowing an individual to learn from his own behavior and sparking the “arms race” by allowing the individual to “cheat” social cooperation. The arms race would allow the evolution of simple questions and answers for interpersonal information transfer. The meaning of vocalizations and gestures would evolve together, becoming “linked” and bringing “twisted” mirror neurons into the part of the brain where speech is orchestrated – activating mirror neurons. The result was that as an individual answered a question, he would see himself answering the question as though he were someone else and actually answer the question to himself as though he were someone else (with inner speech). This allowed an intrapersonal information transfer that became the basis for awareness and the evolution of other aspects of consciousness.

Thank you for reading. I have tried to keep the focus of this post narrow, believe it or not, as there are a lot of different directions I think this can go and a lot of questions left to be asked. That means I almost certainly overlooked stuff in my editing. Feedback would be appreciated. What makes sense? What makes no sense? What can I explain better?

Sorry that my references don’t follow a consistent format.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2kg3nDO

[Merged] Amtrak accident in my area

Yikes! An Amtrak Cascades train has just derailed from an overpass in Dupont, WA (between Tacoma and Olympia) and fallen on to Interstate 5. This is not going to be good.

Apparently this was the first run on this particular route, going more directly south from Tacoma instead of on the main line along the water.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2CAOEKs

Do school ranking scores matter?

Great Schools and other systems have ranking numbers for schools. Critics suggest that those numbers tell little about what sort of education the schools offer, and instead are more indicative of the sociol-economic status of whichever school the rank is for.

This matters, because the middle school in my neighborhood gets poor ranks, but other nearby middle schools do better. My daughter will be entering middle school next year.

Should be to try to get her into one of the other schools (better test scores and ranks)?

Or should we stick with the neighborhood school (she stays with her cohort of friends)?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BwTtFe

Amtrak train derailment near Seattle

This is going to get interesting.

This was brand new track, fully tested and ready, and the very first commercial train on it this morning derails on an overpass crossing the main North-South freeway.

There have been over 70 people taken to one hospital, with varying numbers taken to several others in the area. Currently they're saying 6 fatalities but admitting there are likely more. Non of the drivers on the freeway were killed, but there were many injuries.

I-5 is shut down southbound for an indeterminate length of time, it may take days. This affects the entire region, as people routinely commute from down there into Seattle, not to mention it being the main freight road.

More as it comes in.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2CAyBMO

False confessions more common than you might think.



n 1961 Darryl Beamish, an affable and profoundly deaf 19-year-old, agreed with police that he'd savagely butchered a glamorous Perth heiress in her own bed with a tomahawk and a pair of dressmaking scissors.

Mr Beamish made a series of written confessions, following police interviews that were awash with leading questions. They were the backbone of a case that resulted in a death sentence, later commuted to life in prison.

He was later cleared of the 1959 murder of Jillian Brewer.

There isn't a person alive who hasn't occasionally acted as their own worst enemy.

But making a false confession to murder brings self-sabotage to a terrifying new level — and it's more common than most of us imagine.

Up to a third of wrongful conviction cases involve a false confession. Perth has been home to a string of such cases — and it's given the world's most isolated big city a reputation for miscarriages of justice.
A very interesting read. I do wonder why cops who do it, do it, though.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2B9Kw80

The woman who can smell parkinson's disease

This is an astonishing tale, see:

Scientists sniff out Parkinson's disease smell - http://ift.tt/2jbL1TA

In summary a woman claimed she could detect a unique smell from her husband and other people who had parkinson's disease. Turned out she could, not only that she could tell someone had parkinson's before someone was actually diagnosed by medical professionals. This may lead to a tool to diagnose sufferers earlier.

I've put this in the general skepticism section as I think it provides a text book example of how a genuine but amazing claim can quickly go from extreme skepticism to being accepted. All it takes is a genuine wish for the claim to be checked, a simple but controlled test that proves the claim is right and Bob's your uncle scientists find it very exciting and start using the claim.

Provide evidence, be willing to be tested and scientists will be all over your amazing ability.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2kGwmQC

dimanche 17 décembre 2017

Jim Karol - Amazing Memory or Magic Trick

I just watched a YouTube clip of a Howard Stern radio show episode. In it, Jim Karol performs several feats of mentalism. One in particular caught my eye. He seemingly is able to instantly memorize the order of all 52 cards in a standard deck. Check it out. It begins just before the eleven-minute mark in this video:
Because Jim Karol makes lots of money with his Memory Master course and lures people to sign up by demonstrating similar feats of mental power, I feel it is time for a closer examination of his claims.

What do you think is happening in the video? Amazing memory or magic trick, or perhaps a little of both?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2kEiWEJ

MY enclosed area theory and belief in ghosts

There is a house in my town that is huge. It has three full stories and an attic and full basement. Numerous sightings of ghosts have been reported mostly but not entirely by children.

Searching every nook and cranny of this building I have come to believe certain people see ghosts there because they feel someone should be there occupying all the empty spaces.

Humans evolved during times when large enclosed spaces were rare. If you came upon a cave someone or something was sure to be living there. You expected to see some human, hominid or animal occupying the cave or whatever.

The house is now occupied by a law firm and no spectral sightings have been reported.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2kC8D46

US UFO Secrets Revealed


That video footage is quite impressive, I have to admit.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2yL35cx

Merry Christmas to ALL!

In the spirit of this holiday season, I would like to share this inspiring Christmas story with you all!! :)


via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2B0xYju

samedi 16 décembre 2017

Turing machines, etc, and errors

As I understand it, a Turing machine is a theoretical ideal, an infinite tape, a reading head, and so on. Such machines play an important role in computer science, etc.

In the real world no tape can infinite, time is not infinite, etc. and these sorts of things are indeed considered.

But what about errors? What if the head reads a 1 as a zero?

I guess this aspect of the real world is also considered, in the relevant disciplines, but how? For example, how are halting problems viewed, when thinking about running them on real Turing machines?

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2ja80i5

Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program UFO'S

Just released report.


For five years, from 2007 to 2012, the Pentagon ran a $22 million program that investigated reports of UFOs. The program investigated accounts by military personnel and commercial pilots who witnessed unidentified aircraft that appeared to move or hover without visible signs of propulsion or lift, the reports said.

One of the sightings investigated had been captured on videotape, released in August, showing a white oval object the size of a commercial plane as it was chased by a pair of Navy fighter jets off of San Diego in 2004, the Times said.


via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2AZtycA

Ah, remember when the CDC could use all the words?

Ah, the good old days. When the CDC could just publish things and politicians weren't getting their feelings hurt by their science and reality triggers.

Well all that is gone! The far right snowflakes who cry the tears of fascism whenever people post about things like transgender or "evidence" will no longer be triggered by the CDC.

They are now forbidden to use the following words or phrases:


Ain't that swell? I mean it isn't like an organization like the CDC would ever need "evidence" or "science" in their mission which surely isn't anything important like disease control....oh....I've just been informed they are in control of disease.

Well I guess under Trump they can just pray away Ebola or a SuperFlu.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2BylFu8

The idea that climate scientists just want more funds

So one idea propagated by denials like Patrick Moore, is that climate change researchers are just lying or exaggerating the climate threat so they can get more funds for more research.

This argument seems to open up a Pandora's box. After all, if climate scientists are doing this then surely it must happen with others. Could AIDs researchers be lying about the threat of HIV some they can get more funding. Heck, any time scientists suggest that something is a health/environmental problem, they must be treated with suspicion.

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2AXRpcF

New Book on Pearl Harbor Puts Blame on Washington and Exonerates Kimmel

Best-selling investigative journalists Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan's book A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and a Family's Quest for Justice (New York: Harper, November 2016) presents new evidence of a massive cover-up and exposes FDR's shameful efforts to make Admiral Kimmel the scapegoat for the attack on Pearl Harbor. Here is some of what three reviewers have said about the book:

“Meticulous, eloquent, and compelling - and hugely readable. The 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack is well served by A Matter of Honor.” -- Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Men Who United the States and Pacific

“Anthony Summers’ & Robbyn Swan’s A Matter of Honor is a noble and right-minded portrait of Admiral Kimmel, the scapegoat for Pearl Harbor. The amount of fresh research is deeply impressive. Highly recommended!” -- Douglas Brinkley, author of Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt & the Land of America

“The most comprehensive, accurate and thoroughly researched book of events leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor ever written. It provides new information never before revealed.” -- Admiral James Lyons, former Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet

via International Skeptics Forum http://ift.tt/2CK3hMr